Four years ago this month, I heard about Michele Dufault from one of my college classmates, the head of the math department at an excellent school in Boston. He dropped me a short message, knowing that she had been admitted to Yale. He wanted me to know what an outstanding math and science student Michele had been in high school, and how much I would enjoy knowing her … if she accepted Yale’s offer. How pleased I was, then, to discover in the summer of 2007 that Michele Dufault would be a Saybrugian. I met her in her first days in the college; a few weeks later, she joined other classmates in an apple-picking trip followed by a day of baking — she was part of a great team of students who made apple crisp for 100+ students that day, all served up with Ashley’s ice cream later in the evening. Working together in the kitchen that day Michele told me how much she loved baking and cooking and being in a home. Over that year, Michele logged notes in the Saybrook student kitchen record book, noting hygiene and responsibility; she looked for ways to build community at every turn. She volunteered at Common Ground School freshman year and brought seedlings back to Saybrook College. I heard from one and all about her dedication to the Yale community. When we had a cookout over the summer, when school was not in session, she was among the first to volunteer to help.
Recently I had the opportunity to hear about her senior project at the Mellon Forum in Saybrook College, where my husband, Edward Kamens, is currently acting master. She talked about dark matter, the subject of research she conducted in the Dan McKinsey lab; while she was speaking, I suspended disbelief and thought I understood the strange behavior of invisible things. She was vibrant and compelling that evening, as Michele was in all things, especially in the YPMB, where she loved being in the thick of the crowd, leading the saxophone section with both affection and drive.
Yale has lost a shining star. The universe has lost a rising one.